The Pink Cloud

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews

The Pink Cloud
"One aspect that really lands as a parallel with the current pandemic is the uncertainty of it all." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Imagine a world where people have to isolate in their homes, interact with their friends through video chat and receive supplies via safe, contactless methods. OK, it might not be so hard to imagine now, but when Brazilian writer/director Iuli Gerbase conceived The Pink Cloud, these things weren’t part of everyday life. This film feels so much like it was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic that the filmmakers included a disclaimer in the opening credits assuring us that it was made beforehand — written in 2017 and shot in 2019.

To be sure, the concept is a bit more sci-fi and the timescale a bit more epic than our current pandemic (at least let’s hope so on the time factor). It opens as a mysterious pink cloud appears across the world, killing anyone it surrounds within 10 seconds. Everyone has to immediately go inside and shelter in place, without even the luxury of going home if they aren’t already there.

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Rather than depicting scientists and government officials as they study the cloud, Gerbase tells her story though the eyes of Giovana and Yago, who wake up after a one-night-stand and realise they have to spend an indefinite future together. We learn what’s happening as they do, first by an official loudspeaker message then by sharing rumours with friends and family. Eventually, a tube gets installed into one of their windows so they can receive shipments, including a weird pink vitamin juice.

One aspect that really lands as a parallel with the current pandemic is the uncertainty of it all. People have heard rumours from their friends about how long it will last, but the truth is no one knows if it will end tomorrow or never. At first there’s a sense of newness to it that makes it a little exciting but, of course, that fades as monotony sets in. There’s a constant sense of an unknown future, and some characters are able to deal with that better than others. Since there are never any on-screen announcements about the passing of time a la “one year later…,” it feels a bit like the story of the frog in water rising to a boil. Before you realise it, the confinement has lasted years.

If you apply purely logical thinking to the setup, certain things become highly improbable. For example, the more time passes, the more people would come up with solutions to become mobile — even if you couldn’t go outdoors, tunnels and subways would surely be built to let people congregate in other indoor spaces like bars and restaurants. It would certainly become a priority for people who ended up stuck inside grocery stores and other non-ideal locations. After all, the authorities came up with the tube shipment solution pretty fast. However, if you can suspend your disbelief on that point, it permits the drama to serve as thought experiment on the psychological effects of being confined to the house.

The lead couple, played by Renata de Lélis and Eduardo Mendonça, has a complicated and epic arc. The two characters have different coping mechanisms — he tries to ignore the negatives and enjoy what life still has to offer, she grows increasingly inconsolable about the life she’s lost. The contrast creates a dire situation — one person unable to find happiness, the other unable to help. The struggle may feel direly close to home at times, but it’s also has a moving essence of nostalgia and melancholy.

Reviewed on: 30 Jan 2021
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A mysterious and deadly pink cloud appears across the globe, forcing everyone to stay home. Strangers at the outset, Giovana and Yago try to invent themselves as a couple as years of shared lockdown pass. While Yago is living in his own utopia, Giovana feels trapped deep inside.

Director: Iuli Gerbase

Writer: Iuli Gerbase

Starring: Renata de Lélis, Eduardo Mendonça, Kaya Rodrigues, Helena Becker, Girley Paes, Renata de Lélis, Eduardo Mendonça, Kaya Rodrigues, Helena Becker, Girley Paes

Year: 2021

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: Brazil

Festivals:

Sundance 2021

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